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Project Graduation Canceled in Wake County

Posted May 8, 2007

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— The Wake County PTA Council was forced to cancel an annual post-graduation celebration due to a lack of security volunteers.

"Project Graduation" gives seniors the opportunity to celebrate the end of school without alcohol, tobacco or drugs.

Organizers say they wanted 40 volunteer Wake County deputies to provide security.

"(The Wake County Sheriff's Office wasn't) able to get but nine this year, so it wasn't even close to what we needed," said PTA Council president Cindy Smith. "And so with less than two weeks away, we were really left with no choice but to cancel it because of safety and liability issues."

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said his deputies didn't get the word early enough to recruit the number needed. The department had 22 volunteers and were working on more when they got the cancellation notice, Harrison said.

"We didn't have 40 last year," Harrison said. "This is beginning to be a big operation and our deputies are just stretched thin as far as volunteering. We've got the Special Olympics the same weekend. Also, we have the Cops on Top of the Building program."

Smith said she doesn't blame the sheriff's department for the cancellation. She also said many parents are upset that an alcohol-free event for their children is gone.

"With high school kids (of her own), I worry about them," Smith said. "One of them just got his driver's license. The other one just got his permit. So it's a little scary."

Earlier this year, Wakefield High student Sadiki Young died in a crash on Wakefield Pines Drive. Last March, four Wakefield students died when their car plunged off the U.S. Highway 64 bypass. Speed and alcohol contributed to the deaths.

The PTA Council and the sheriff's department both said they want to re-group, plan better, and get Project Graduation back on track next year.


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  • wcnc May 10, 2007

    2late says "great job Wake County Sheriff's Dept....not like you needed any good P.R."
    Is it any wonder that deputies wouldn't want to volunteer when faced with people with this attitude??!! Imagine this.....you need to find 40 volunteers out of those deputies who are not on duty that night, who aren't already scheduled to work off duty, or who have not already volunteered at the other events going on. Then maybe a few families of those who are available might want to see their spouse who is a deputy and has already worked at least 40-50 hours that week. How dare we put the blame on these overworked and underpaid people. Why didn't the PTA ask Raleigh to help as well and fill the other 18 spaces for volunteers.....they simply cancelled without warning- blame rests on them!!

  • XtremeNuisance May 9, 2007

    Gosh, it cut off my comment. And I ended it all nicely. Basically I said that my friends who graduated last year and went said that they had a lot of fun. And I hope that the people who organize it will be better prepared next year and on so that future senior classes can have as much fun as they did.

  • Heelzrule May 9, 2007

    Indeed - don't blame the sheriff's office! Deputies have other committments and most often are working 2nd jobs to survive. Has anyone ever considered holding PARENTS accountable for their children's actions - so we would not need so many deputies? Get more parents to the party - I know I helped out in the past.

  • superman May 9, 2007

    If the group need 40 deputies-- parents should contribute money and recruit from all the police departments as well as the sheriff. This is America-- people expect things for free. The group know that Cary, Apex, Fuquay, Wake Forest, Knightdale and almost all the cities in Wake County have law enforcement officers. About 4 or 5 from each city would give them the 40 they need-- and PAY THEM for their work. Public employees do not have a duty to donate their time for whatever worthwhile cause. I bet they could get 40 business owers to sponsor one officer and be glad to pay him for his services.

  • party pooper May 9, 2007

    Go ahead and blame Wake S.O. for not providing enough volunteers, that's the easy route. Maybe they didn't have the man power like the Sheriff said or maybe the deputies are working other jobs to make up for their low pay. You don't need 40 officers there, get 60 parents to take their place and they can watch their own kids.

  • 2late May 9, 2007

    DOn;t worry about makingthis happen for those kids...i'm sure there will be other parties for them to attend....great job Wake County Sheriff's Dept....not like you needed any good P.R.

  • love32acupIBTC May 9, 2007

    What weekend was this planned for? I'd DJ it for free (if it's not on a weekend that I'm booked). I'm in Durham, so knew nothing of this, but again- I would do it for FREE (lights, fog, music, etc)if I'm not booked.

  • SHELLYGIRL May 9, 2007

    I am a bit baffled at the fact that this event has been cancelled. The lack of planning on the adults part should not be a reason to cancel this event. These kids worked hard all year and the one time they get to play hard to show off their work it is dropped like a bad habit. ALL counties should be enlisted for volunteer deputies not just WAKE. I think they need to re-think this event and get the wheels back in motion ASAP!!!! CALLING ALL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES!!!!!! this is for the children and after all isn't that what is always being said that they want to keep the childrens best interest at heart and do what is right for them? FYI: keep this in mind if they cancel this event whose to say that the kids wont form their own party gathering and lets pray their are no casualties as a result, then what?

  • mamasaurusrex May 9, 2007

    "Obviously not well advertised. I would have gladly volunteered."

    Parents (unless they ARE cops) can't volunteer to BE a cop. And frankly the "obvious not well advertised" comment was a slap in the PTA's face. Did you go to any Wake Co. PTA meetings? No, not just the one's at your child's school, the Wake Co. PTA meetings that tried to sponsor this event. I did. They wanted this event to happen too. PTAs are run by parents, and they tried. It be real nice if people used their energy to actually attend a few meetings instead of just engaging in uniniformed armchair ranting.

  • grayfox2 May 8, 2007

    Outside the Beltline/ Do you have any idea what you are talking about?